Cases and Relations of Place

Summary of Relations of Place

The basic relations of place are: (a) place from which, (b) place to which and (c) place where

  • Place from which : ablative ab, dē, or ex
  • Place to which : accusative + ad or in
  • Place at which : ablative in 

Originally, these were implied by the cases themselves. “The accusative…denoted the end of motion. The ablative… denoted the place from which, and… the place where” (AG, 426). Prepositions exist to add precision.

Forthcoming posts will explore exceptions, variations and precise rules associated with particular nouns. For now, let’s get the basics settled:

Place From Which (ab, dē, ex +abl.)

They came from the north: ā septentriōne vēnērunt.

The sheep descend from the mountain: pecus dē prōvinciā dēscendit. 

The send hostages from Britain: ex Britanniā obsidēs mittunt. 

Place To Which (ad, in + acc.)

They came by night to the river: nocte ad flūmen vēnērunt.

He sails to Africa today: hodiē in Āfricam nāvigat. 

She will send her brother to Italy: fratrem in Ītaliam mittet. 

Place At Which (in + abl.)

She passed her entire life in this city: in hāc urbe tōtam vītam dēgit.

They had remained in Gual: in Galliā remanerant. 

The Essential AG: 426

Famous Phrase: creātiō ex nihiliō [creation from nothing]

Three word summary of the First Cause position in the philosophy of religion, which places this or that divine creator at the head of all creation. For those of you disinterested in the precise tenets of the argument, here’s a brief ‘history‘ of its traces in the ancient world.


Comparison of Gerund and Gerundive (Dative and Accusative)

Summary of Comparison

The gerundive, or perfect passive participle, is a verbal adjective, which conveys a sense of necessity, obligation or propriety

  • The gerundive may appear in any case, according to its corresponding noun

The gerund is a type of gerundive, appearing only the oblique (non-nominative) cases, used substantial as a verbal noun

  • This use of the gerundive, always neuter singular, is comparable to the English gerund, which ends in -ing

For a more basic discussion of gerunds and gerundives, see the articles on ‘Gerunds’ and ‘Gerundives’ elsewhere in this blog


Gerunds and Gerundives with the Dative

Gerundives, expressive purpose, appear as a dative in a few standard expressions

  • He appointed a day for doing the work: diem praestitit operī faciendō.
  • She had take charge of working the land: praeesse agrō colendō erat.
  • The visit was for paying the fine: adventus solvendō fuit.

Both may appear as datives with certain verbs of fitness or adapability

Here, though, ad + accusative gerund/gerundive is preferred

  • He discovered a sort of armor suited to the defense of the body: genus armōrum aptum tegendīs corporibus invēnit. (gerundive)
  • They were suitable for carrying the instructions of the soldiers: perferndīs mīlitum mandātīs idōneus fuērunt. (gerundive)
  • It was a good thinking chair: silla bona dubitandō fuit. (gerund)

The gerundive appears in various legal phrases indicating scope of office

  • The participated in elections for nominating consuls: comitiīs cōnsulibus rogandīs participābunt. (comitiīs = abl. with participo)
  • He was elected triumvir for planting colonies: triumvirum colōniīs dēdūcundīs allēgit. 

Gerunds and Gerundives with the Accusative

The expression ad + gerund/gerundive, expressing purpose, is incredibly common in classical Latin

The expression never takes a direct object

  • You summon me to write: mē vocās ad scrībendum. (gerund)
  • You live not to put off, but to confirm daring: vīvis nōn ad dēpōnendum sed ad cōnfirmandum audāciam. (gerund)
  • She proceeded, having found means to undertake these things, nactus aditūs ad ea cōnanda prōfecta est. (gerundive)


The Essential AG: §505, 506


Famous Phrase: ad referendum (to be proposed)

[intermediary status of bill under the consideration of a legislative body]



Ad Incipiam

The Origin of Ad

“obscure and doubtful” (AG, 219)

Summary of Use

Ad takes and accusative; it may be translated to, toward, at, near

Ad precedes its noun, with exceptions in poetry

Basic Uses


  • She came to the city: ad urbem venit.
  • She came to him: ad eam venit.


  • They danced until the ninth hour: saltābant ad nōnam hōram.
  • They assembled on the [appointed] day: convēnērunt ad diem.


  • He spoke in this way: loquēbātur ad hunc modum.
  • He was sentenced to death: condemnāvit ad mortem. (ad of penalty)
  • He went into politics: adiit ad rem pūblicam.
  • Besides, he was dead: ad hōc periit.  
  • It is fit for the ways of war: aptus est ad rem bellum. (ad of fitness)
  • It is useful to us for this thing: nōbis ūtile est ad hanc rem. (ad of use)

Ad versus In

“With the name of a country, ad denotes to the borders; ininto the country itself.” (AG, 428c)

  • He came to Italy: ad Ītaliam venit.
  • He came into Italy; in Ītaliam venit.

The temporal uses ad and in are identical.

  • They wandered until nightfall: ad noctem errāvērunt.
  • They wandered until nightfall: in noctem errāvērunt.

With Gerunds and Gerundives

“The accusative of the gerund and gerundive is often used after the preposition ad, to denote purpose.” (AG, 506)

  • You summon me to write: mē vocās ad scrībendum.
  • You live to outdo your crimes: vīvis ad vincandum nefas.


Ad may be used to form numerous verbal compounds, or the prepositional compounds adversus (against) and adversum (towards)

The prepositions take an accusative; most of the verbs take an accusative.

The Essential AG: 221.2

Famous Phrase: ad fontes (to the source) [motto of the Renaissance humanists]